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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
TV star's eyes help others to see
Richard Whiteley and Kathryn Apanowicz
Kathryn with Whiteley when he received the OBE in 2004
Corneas from the late Richard Whiteley, host of TV's Countdown, have helped restore the eyesight of two people.

His long-term partner Kathryn Apanowicz approved the donation of the 61-year-old's corneas after his death following heart surgery last year.

She told BBC News: "I fully support donations. Richard felt the same way."

The NHS Blood and Transplant organisation (NHSBT) contacted Kathryn, who readily agreed to the donation, Leeds Hospitals Trust said.

As part of a drive to increase the number of tissue donors, relatives of patients who die in hospital are approached about the option of tissue donation by a member of the local NHSBT Tissue Services team.

I have absolutely no doubt that agreeing for Richard's tissues to be used for the benefit of someone else was the right thing to do
Kathryn Apanowicz

Ms Apanowicz said: "I've always been a firm believer that if you're willing to receive a transplant you should be willing to donate.

"For many people the prospect of being contacted after the death of a loved one is a frightening one but I have to say the experience in our case was not like that.

"In many ways receiving a telephone call at home after Richard's death was better than being approached whilst I was in hospital. It gave me the chance to take my time and consider the options before responding.

"The nurses in the Tissue Services team were very sensitive in the way they explained the process to me and I have absolutely no doubt looking back that agreeing for Richard's tissues to be used for the benefit of someone else was the right thing to do."

Family comfort

Julie Wright, NHSBT Senior Tissue Donor Co-ordinator, explained: "Donated tissues are increasingly being used to provide lifesaving and life enhancing surgery for patients so there is a clear need to increase donation.

"This scheme has already helped many patients have vital surgery to improve their quality of life, as well as giving more families the option of tissue donation.

"Many people say that giving permission for donation, so that tragedy at least results in hope for someone else, brings them great comfort.

Ms Wright said the campaign was aimed at raising awareness about the trust's work and to thank people for their support.

"We hope lots of people will be inspired to give their support, so that more patients can be helped," she said.

Donated skin is used to help burns victims, bone is used in orthopaedic surgery and tendons play an important role in treating sports injuries.

Tissue such as heart valves can save the lives of patients with heart disease, and donated corneas can restore eyesight.

Since staff from NHSBT began working in partnership with Leeds Hospital Trust to approach families directly, tissue donation rates in Leeds have increased more than sixfold.




SEE ALSO
Whiteley leaves will worth 3.92m
07 Mar 06 |  Entertainment
Private funeral for TV's Whiteley
29 Jun 05 |  West Yorkshire
Vorderman honours 'Mr Countdown'
27 Jun 05 |  Entertainment
Presenter Richard Whiteley dies
26 Jun 05 |  Entertainment
Obituary: Richard Whiteley
26 Jun 05 |  Entertainment

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